Don’t underestimate Turkey in winter. Although it’s cold of an evening, it’s still sunny most days and a fabulous place to visit – dare I say it, winter is the best time to visit!
Think of a holiday in Turkey and chances are sitting in a beachside restaurant, drinking an ice-cold beer and tucking into a big plate of meze springs to mind. Well, guess what – you can still do all this during the winter, the bonus being it’s minus the crowds and the prices are cheaper! There are many perks to visiting summer destinations offseason. Sure, many of the resort hotels, restaurants and bars are shut, but life does still exist and you get a more authentic break virtually tourist free! Here are just a few of the reasons to visit coastal Turkey in winter…
It’s crowd-free and the beaches are idyllic! Lot’s of visitors in August moan about the crowds of tourists, the amount of Full English breakfasts on offer or the fact some of the popular resorts feel like ‘little Britain’. Mid-summer the beaches are crowded, the local buses packed, the pubs blare loud music and tourists pack the local historic sites and streets of coastal resorts. It’s to be expected. But come November 1st, the first-day off-season, all is tranquil. There are very few idiotic beer-swilling Brits, the mayhem of summer subsides, the beach deck-chairs are packed away and the former jam-packed resorts like Oludeniz and Calis relax and unwind into a lazy winter mode. It’s peaceful.
Prices get cheaper. Turkey is cheap any time of the year if you are converting Euros, Pounds or Dollars. But the influx of tourists during the summer does push prices up. Come winter, the hotels that are open offer significantly reduced prices. It’s possible to get a centrally located hotel room for 2 people, on a bed and breakfast basis for less than £10 a night. Come summer you are looking at more than triple the cost, if not more. Top that off with the restaurants and bars offering cheaper menus and the flights, although less frequent and possibly via Istanbul or Antalya, drop prices significantly to fill seats. If you’re on a budget and after excellent value for money, visit off-season, you’re on to a winner!
You get to spend time with the locals. If you’re seeking a more authentic breakaway or looking for a glimpse of local life, visit between November and April. The majority of locals on the coast work in tourism, therefore, during the summer they are busy and don’t get the time to relax and meet others. Of a winter it is the locals that fill the streets, drinking cay (tea) and playing backgammon in cafes, fishing along the harbour front, walking their dogs or enjoying a drink. It’s in a Turk’s nature to be friendly and hospitable, most are happy to strike up a conversation with a foreigner given a chance. Visitors get the best tips on where to go, what to do and places to see from the locals. They also make for great people watching. Turks are quirky and just sitting and watching daily life roll by from a cafe at the local market, or with a beer along the harbourfront can be great entertainment.
You get to appreciate the countries beauty. People often overlook the beauty of Turkey. Sure, most comment on the clear blue skies and the wonderful mountains, but often the beaches are too packed during the summer to fully take in the scenery and the areas charm. Many don’t realise that Turkey does get cold. So cold in fact that from around the beginning of December the mountains surrounding resorts like Oludeniz are beautifully snow-capped. Grab the kids, leave the sunny beach behind for a day and head for a drive out towards Antalya from Fethiye. Within an hour you are a few foot deep in virgin snowfall, a great opportunity to trudge an untrodden path through the powder or do a little sledging. Why not build a snowman or do as the locals do? Throw a couple of deckchairs in the car, arm yourself with cheap little BBQ, stop off at Migros and buy a few pre-made kofte (meatballs) or some slices of sucuk (spicy sausage). Buy a one lira loaf and throw yourself a little BBQ lunch before retreating back down the mountain to enjoy a late afternoon tipple before the sun goes down!
Break tradition and simply come and explore! If you love Turkey anyway, get your head out of summer mode and just have a look at the flights. Chances are you will find a very cheap return with the likes of Thomas Cook to Antalya and back for a silly price. The city of Antalya is a great place during the winter as well. Many of the ultra all-inclusive resorts and boutique hotels in the centre have some fabulous deals off-season, especially over the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Many expats living in the likes of Fethiye and along the coast try and indulge in at least a few days luxury up in Antalya of a winter as the cost is so reasonable. Failing that, simply fly into Antalya and organise a transfer to fetch you and bring you to Fethiye. It only takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. A shared door to door transfer costs as little as £30, a local bus considerably less at around 30tl – what are you waiting for?!
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